Hostelling is celebrating its 100 year this year and http://www.hiusa.org/>Hostelling International USA is celebrating its 75 birthday and since this columnist has been on the road for a good deal of the past year, and staying in various hostels from San Francisco to Fremantle Western Australia and since Hostelling week is from August 22 to August 30 (which is actually 8 days), it seems like this is a good opportunity to write a dog-days column about living in the hostel world and give the pro-Bush trolls a Saturday off by not mention anything about how much he deserves a war criminal trial let alone say anything about how embarrassing such a legal proceeding might be for Jeb Bush and his quest to become "45" in 2012.
Recently we noticed an odd aspect about staying in hostels because when we traveled in Australia, at the various hostels, we met young folks from Great Britain, Germany, France and many Canadians (just a few fellow Americans) but when we wound up staying at the Hostel California in the Venice section of Los Angeles, (not far from the apartment we used to call "home") we met a slew of Australians.
It's a sort of insulated subgroup within the community. The hostellers meet others hostellers and not the locals. The locals don't realize just how much the visiting tourists add to the local businesses. High rollers tend to stay in upscale hotels and mostly meet other well-to-do travelers. Business men stay at business oriented hotels and mostly meet other traveling salespersons.
Hostels are a good way to meet folks and make new friends, but there are some shortcuts that anyone trying the hostel experience for the first time might want to know. For instance, even a non-smoker and non-drinker would find new friends by hanging out in a hostel's smoking and drinking area. (Here's a shout-out to the gang on the roof of the Sydney Central Backbackers Hostel waiting to see the bats [from the Sydney Botanical Gardens] fly past.) The smokers and drinkers seem to be more friendly than those who abstain from drink and tobacco, but they are very open-minded about letting a fellow who passes on both counts to sit with them and talk late into the night.
Most Americans (except for the few surviving hippies who used crash pads) aren't use to the Spartan comfort level, but the ones that do give it a go, know that on a good vacation if a person is on the go from morning to late, late at night and the only thing really needed at that point is a bed and a pair of ear plugs. Someone who has had a good touristing day will flop down, sleep 'til dawn, and then start all over again.
Young folks don't need all the amenities that run up the costs at a four star hotel.
As we started to prepare to write this weeks' Saturday column, we bought a lap-top and that brought a new dilemma into our life: we'd like to settle down (Go Berkeley Bears!) somewhere, but with a lap-top we could go back out on the road and be fully portable and not have to pay for computer time.
Back in the good old days of B&W photos, sometimes when a scheduled news event (track meet or such) was happening outside the nearest AP bureau, they would ask the newspaper that was closest to the event, if thy could invoke interline courtesy and use the local paper's darkroom and telephones to set up a temporary transmitting station. They would use the newspaper's darkroom facilities, but they had to lug a big "portable" transmitter into the office and place it near the phones they were going to use.
For someone who has seen all that elaborate preparations needed to send out photos to the world that way, the thought that nowadays kids can use a lap-top and be ready to post some photos (in color!) on their facebook page immediately after (heck now a photojournalist with the right camera can send out photos right from the event itself) they have been taken, is totally amazing.
Say, with the new lap-top maybe we could sell some rights to the picture we got last Saturday (August 15, 2009) of Oliver Hudson (trying to), from the TV show "Rules of Engagement," selling kisses on Venice's Ocean Front Walk. It was supposed to be part of a scavenger hunt competition.
Getting a lap-top will expand the capabilities of the World's Laziest Journalist Industries to levels that seemed like a science fiction story just a few years back. Just writing that sentence makes the WLJ want to get moving again, tomorrow. We can just hear Willie Nelson singing "On the road again," can't you?
If we go back on the road, we'd love to go back to Australia. It's so big and so varied we didn't get to see everything in our three months there, but on the other hand, we could explore our origins by going to Ireland. We understand that the air fare has been remarkable low recently.
Should we go or should we stay . . . put? If we "go" should we push on into new territory (an Irish pub?) or go back and see what we missed (Coober Pede)?"
Being an ordained minister who do we turn to for advice? Jim Brennan, author of "Cure Your Bad Back Forever! With the miracle of Equi-load," shared his advice with us. He says that that the world is too big and too beautiful for redundancy when it comes to selecting a destination. He says Ireland and Germany are my destiny and my duty to myself.
Is it true that one particular tavern in Munich has some very historic bullet holes in the ceiling? What's it like to hear an "oopah" band during Oktoberfest?